How would you cope if you were loaned five Lomography cameras, four of which you'd never used before, and told you had a week to shoot with them before you had to give them back? Here's how I managed.
A friend of mine gave me some great news a few weeks ago. He was going away for a week and wondered if I’d like to borrow his small collection of Lomography cameras. My answer was one I didn’t have to think about and I obviously said yes. I knew he had cameras I had never used before: Colorsplash, Actionsampler, Fisheye No. 2 and the LC-A+. I even said I’d take his Diana F+ despite having one of my own – I know every Diana is slightly different so was happy to mess with his for a few days.
There was one catch attached to this generous offer though, a task to focus my thoughts: show me where you live. Obviously he knew where I lived but he also knew that something like that would make me think about what I was doing rather than just messing about. It was a great idea and I relished the thought of getting it started. Straight away I started working up flexi-time at work in preparation for my Lomo Week so I could finish early every day and make sure I still had good light. To go along with my photography I resolved to keep a small diary each evening so I could write this article. Here’s how I fared:
A beautiful Spring day, I finished work as early as I possibly could and headed for an area North of Bolton called Belmont and in particular, the Blue Lagoon, a small reservoir on the edge of the West Pennine Moors. I had every camera with me in my bag, mostly loaded with Lomography film of 800 ISO. First out of the bag was the Diana, which I was used to using. Next the Fisheye and this is where the fun started. What a great viewfinder – everything looked awesome through it. I happily shot away, hoping these were going to turn out. Likewise with the other cameras.
From there I headed on up to Rivington and Lord Leverhulme’s Pigeon Tower to get some more shots of the countryside around Bolton. Before long it started getting misty so I headed home, satisfied that I’d got some decent shots.
A grey day and not one that inspired me to go out and take photos. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what I did. Because of the greyness I thought it would be a good chance to document the other side of Bolton, away from the lovely countryside and into the town centre, all concrete, discount shops and For Sale signs. I’m afraid to say it didn’t disappoint in revealing all that is bad about the town. There are some good buildings in Bolton but there are also a lot of bad ones, combined with a lot of empty units and a lot of unsavoury characters. Sorry but that’s just how I see it.
My afternoon was summed up by this incident. I saw a group of pigeons feeding on some scraps of food and thought it would be a great shot if I could get them to fly up into the air whilst I captured the moment on the Actionsampler. I walked into the flock expecting them to fly away but all they did was walk. As I carried on pursuing, pointing the camera in their direction, I heard someone shout out, “PIGEON PORN!” Although it made me laugh a little, I mostly felt degraded and fed up with Bolton. It can do that to you sometimes…
An easy afternoon which included some family shots which I felt were stretching the brief of where I live. However, I justified it by saying that without my family the place I live would have no meaning.
A frustrating day. The brief to document where I lived, combined with some poor weather, was making it difficult to stay focused. Despite this, I went to the Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers FC to get some shots there. They were okay but didn’t feel very exciting to me. A friend came to the rescue and his offer to go to the pub with him that night was readily accepted. Camera bag over my shoulder, my girlfriend and I headed to drink beer, take photos as an excuse to show my favourite drinking holes in Bolton and more importantly, have fun!
Brilliantly, at the pub we met a group of people who knew all about Lomography and we talked at length about the cameras I was using. I thought I was the only one in Bolton but now I know I’m not alone!
Hangover! I managed to drag myself out of bed and down to a local clothes store where my friend’s big band was playing a charity gig. I’m afraid that’s about all I managed today though…
The Final Day
At last, sunshine! I had only one place left I wanted to visit – Manchester. I only live twenty minutes away and it’s such a photogenic city that it would have been a shame not to go and take photos. I was feeling refreshed after my hangover day and inspired by the sunshine. The LCA+ really shone on this day, it loves sunlight. I shot fast and freely and it paid off. Indeed, I even ran out of film and discovered there was nowhere in Manchester that I could buy film on a Sunday.
Well, almost nowhere. Jessops told me they had two rolls of film but on my way there I walked past Urban Outfitters and remembered that they sold Lomography stuff. I went in and lo and behold, Lomography film! Not just 35mm but medium format too. In fact, their selection of film was better than a dedicated camera store (which is surely a problem for Jessops…).
So, that was my Lomo Week. I reluctantly handed the cameras back upon my friend’s return, but happily sent the films away to be developed. I’ll let you judge my efforts but overall I was pretty pleased. I learnt a few good lessons but my main one would be: enjoy yourself!
You don’t have to take perfect shots, you just have to have fun and be creative. If you’re not feeling inspired then do something different, do something to get your creative juices flowing. Try some redscale film, or do like I did and shoot in the Actionsampler and then put that same film into the Colorsplash and shoot over it for some double exposure fun. Just enjoy yourself.
Thanks for reading this, I hope you made it to the end. Now, where’s my bank card – I have cameras to buy…